In a surprise announcement, Jeb Bush will endorse Ted Cruz on Wednesday as an antidote to the “divisiveness and vulgarity” of Donald Trump, providing a badly needed boost to the Texas senator – but it’s one that comes dangerously late in a game that Trump is dominating.
Cruz, in New York City on Wednesday, planned to celebrate with a victory lap of three network morning shows. The endorsement comes 32 days after a beaten Bush dropped out of the GOP presidential race, and eight days since Sen. Marco Rubio abandoned his own quest after being rebuffed by Bush, his fellow Floridian and one-time mentor.
Bush says in a statement to be released by the Cruz campaign: “Ted is a consistent, principled conservative who has demonstrated the ability to appeal to voters and win primary contests.”
“For the sake of our party and country, we must move to overcome the divisiveness and vulgarity Donald Trump has brought into the political arena, or we will certainly lose our chance to defeat the Democratic nominee and reverse President Obama’s failed policies,” the statement continues.
The news will surely irk Rubio, who could have benefited greatly from Bush’s embrace. But a Republican source said: “Jeb came to believe Marco was not up to the job of being President. It was never really under serious discussion.” POLITICO reported on Monday that Rubio had rejected the idea of joining a “unity ticket” with Cruz.
Bush and Cruz sealed the endorsement agreement with a phone call on Monday. “They have kept in touch over the last few weeks and Senator Cruz has been diligent about keeping Governor Bush up to date on his campaign,” a source close to Bush said.
The source said Bush “will actively support Senator Cruz’s bid,” but has not yet agreed to a joint appearance with Cruz, or to headline a fundraiser for him.
Cruz is finally getting a rush of the establishment love that so long eluded him: Mitt Romney said he voted for Cruz in Tuesday’s Utah primary, which the Texan won easily, and recorded get-out-the-vote calls for him in Mormon-heavy Utah and Arizona.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) held a fundraiser for him in Washington on Monday, in connection with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference. And former rival Carly Fiorina endorsed Cruz while making a surprise appearance with him at a Miami rally six days before the Florida primary.
Bush’s endorsement is a massive boost for Cruz with the establishment wing of the GOP, which he’s struggling to win over as party regulars make frantic moves to stop Trump, who is dominating in the delegate race. And it comes at a time when he’s facing strong competition from Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who has remained in the race and is courting the same mainstream Republican donors that Cruz badly needs right now.
The source close to Bush said: “Senator Cruz also met with Governor Bush in Miami before the last Republican debate there (as did Kasich and Rubio). Senator Cruz has demonstrated the ability to bring voters together and to win primaries (which is the key at this point). They have a mutual respect for one another. He is the absolute best shot Republicans have to defeat Donald Trump and then Hillary Clinton.”
The Bush source continued: “This is NOT an anti-John Kasich endorsement. Governor Bush has enormous respect for John Kasich and he enjoyed spending time with Governor Kasich over the past year – thinks he is a good guy and a good governor. At this point, the best path to victory is supporting the candidate who has been able to win states and win over voters.”
SOURCE: Politico – Mike Allen and Alex Isenstadt